• Last updated on November 11, 2022

Based on an individual’s rights to privacy and equality, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law that made it a felony to provide contraceptives to unmarried persons.

In the landmark case Griswold v. Connecticut[case]Griswold v. Connecticut[Griswold v. Connecticut] (1965), the Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to privacy, which included the right of married persons to obtain contraceptives. In Eisenstadt, the justices voted six to one to extend the same right to single people. Speaking for the majority, Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.Brennan, William J., Jr.;Eisenstadt v. Baird[Eisenstadt v. Baird], emphasized that the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibited discrimination against single people. The right of privacy, grounded in a substantive due process reading of the Fourteenth Amendment, included “the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” Going beyond Griswold, the Eisenstadt decision explicitly recognized that the right to privacy was inherent in the individual rather than in the marital relationship, and it did not justify the right on the basis of history and tradition. The two decisions helped lay the theoretical foundation for Roe v. Wade (1973).Reproductive rights;Eisenstadt v. Baird[Eisenstadt v. Baird]Privacy, right of;Eisenstadt v. Baird[Eisenstadt v. Baird]Equal protection clause;Eisenstadt v. Baird[Eisenstadt v. Baird]

Birth control and contraception

Due process, substantive

Equal protection clause

Fundamental rights

Privacy, right to

Roe v. Wade

Categories: History